The news industry has historically been one that always seems to fall into bad light. From sleazy journalists who disobey laws to get stories, to straight-up liars putting out fake news, journalism habitually gets stuck with a bad reputation.
In the 21st century, a time when social justice can be expressed in a mere 280-character tweet, changes are happening in the blink of an eye. Now more than ever, people have the power and the resources to see something, then say something.
Women march for gender equality, people of color march for racial justice and immigrants march for cultural appropriation. Granted, each of these groups is voicing their opinion for something that only affects a small percent of the population respectively. But, in this time of prevalent change, no one is standing for something that affects everybody, something that would benefit 100 percent of the population. Not many are standing for good news.
News brings people together – it is the sole way of sharing and connecting stories from every corner of the world. Earthquake in Japan? That’s a headline in New York. Terrorist attack in London? That’s a headline in China. Tsunami in Indonesia? That’s a headline in Mexico City. Maybe we’ve never been to some of these places, but the stories told in Rome and Egypt and Sydney are all the same because of the wonderful world of news.
But do you notice something similar with all of these headlines? They’re all negative. In fact, a 2014 article from Psychology Today tells us that people actually prefer negative news. A 2014 Quartz article highlighted a Russian news site City Reporter that only reported positive headlines for a day and saw a two-thirds decline in readership for that day. Even our own president has headlines that are over 80 percent negative, according to The Washington Times.
A 2014 article from BigThink, an online knowledge forum that shares videos, articles and tips to foster success, by Peter H. Diamandis explained this, saying, “We have a negativity bias, which is the tendency to give far more information to negative details than positive ones and the confirmation bias, which is our tendency to selectively look at information or see information that confirms our preexisting notions, which is fine except that our preexisting notions are typically negative and therefore, we’re reconfirming our negative expectations.”
The industry is fighting for readership, fighting for the spotlight and fighting to keep people engaged in the age that hates journalists more and more each day. Those of us that go home and tell our families during the holidays that we’re majoring in journalism receive disapproving smiles and sympathetic pats on the back, so it’s no secret the general public has a distaste for journalists.
“If it bleeds, it leads” is an unfortunately true motto that many newsrooms keep in the back of their minds as they design their front pages in the late hours of the night and create attention-grabbing tweets for online readers. Naturally, when running a business, you stay on top by doing what brings in income. Journalism is meant to serve the people, and psychology explains that the people want the gory, emotional, gut-wrenching and mood-busting stories.
We’re just a student newspaper; we don’t have the power to change the natural chemistry of the human brain. We don’t have the power to stop natural disasters from tearing apart developing countries and we don’t have the power to stop gun violence from shaking families and communities. But we do have the power to tell you that good news exists. Journalism isn’t all bad and the world isn’t all bad either.
Good news exists – just look at all the headlines and stories that we found in our city, state, country and world that are in this issue. It may not be the front page headline, and it may never be the front page story, but turn a few pages and you’ll see the feel-good stories. Good news is just as necessary as bad news, so make sure to read more of it. Journalists report on what the readers want, so the more good stories that are read, the more good stories that are reported on.
Today more than ever, we can create a change. We have this beautiful resource at our fingertips, yet we hate it so much and don’t appreciate its purpose. The news isn’t all fake and the journalists behind the stories aren’t all dirty liars. Readers are the ones who crave negativity, but readers are the ones with the ability to change the light the news sits in. Start clicking on the positive headlines, start picking up the paper and turning to the inside and start voicing a need for good news. Who knows? We might go down in history as the generation that not only inspired equality across the board, but that changed the light of worldly communication too.